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Assisted Suicide

Court rejects judicial review appeal of assisted suicide campaigner

30 January 2020

An attempt to hold a judicial review of the current law on assisted suicide has been rejected in court today.

The Court of Appeal has upheld an earlier ruling with respect to an application for judicial review of the law on assisted suicide by Mr Philippe Newby, a 49-year-old with Motor Neurone Disease.

In that November ruling, Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice May said: “despite minor distinctions to be made in the conditions of the claimants, Conway is an authoritative case for present purposes and our judgement is binding on this court in relation to this issue.”

The reference to Conway refers to a major case from a few years ago, where a Mr Conway challenged the current law on assisted suicide, arguing it breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

That challenge was rejected.

The current law prohibits any form of euthanasia or assisted killing. CARE supports the existing law because it provides protection for some of the most vulnerable in our society who would inevitably feel pressurised to end their lives if that law changed.

Gordon Macdonald, CEO of Care Not Killing said:

“We welcome this latest decision by the Court of Appeal to reject an appeal for a judicial review attempt into the 1961 Suicide Act. This latest legal challenge sought to introduce assisted suicide via the backdoor.

'Judges have been very clear in the past that this is a matter for Parliament not for them.

'This ruling recognises that the current law has been voted on and reviewed and debated on more than 30 occasions by MPs, MSPs, peers, other elected officials, judges even the former Director of Public Prosecutions since 2003. Most recently in both the House of Commons and Tynwald on the Isle of Man debated the issue last week. Parliamentarians have consistently rejected changing the law and creating a two-tier legal system, which discriminates against the terminally ill, those with chronic conditions and disabled people, by removing universal protections.

'Evidence from around the world shows removing these protections puts vulnerable people at risk of abuse and of coming under pressure, real or perceived to end their lives prematurely.

'Indeed, in the US states of Oregon and Washington, often held up as the model for England and Wales to follow, year after year, a majority of those ending their lives cite fear of becoming a burden as a reason for doing so. While in Canada, which introduced assisted suicide and euthanasia in 2016, the requirement to be terminally ill was recently removed by the Courts and now politicians are looking to extend euthanasia to those with mental health problems.

'No wonder a major US report from the National Council on Disability, found the laws in the handful of states that had gone down this route, were ineffective and oversight of abuse and mistakes was absent.

'This explains why not a single doctors group or major disability rights organisation supports changing the law, including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians, the British Geriatric Society and the Association for Palliative Medicine.”


Assisted Suicide

Where assisted suicide is legal, it makes vulnerable people feel like a burden. CARE works to uphold laws that protect those people, and to assist them to live—not to commit suicide.

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